Arteta’s new Arsenal v Klopp’s Liverpool – Community Shield

August 29, 2020

I’m prompted to write a few words following a fairly unpleasant contact with a so-called “supporter” on an Arsenal site who described us as “serial bottlers” who will obviously lose today.

We could of course get beaten, but I challenged his description and loyalty. I then called up his profile and discovered he was in fact a Liverpool fan!!

Having referred him to 30 years of waiting for his team’s current success, and possible “bottling” tendencies in that time, I gave up with reasonable debate.

So, having finished last season on a high, including that glorious win against the Dippers, what can we expect tomorrow?

I’m inclined to believe the comment, that neither team will be particularly concerned at the importance of the game, and may pick “weaker” teams. Hope however, that Mikel will see the need to try to keep momentum up and give us a team strong enough and motivated enough to get a win.

Bernd is back in as Emi is “not available” apparently. Will Mikel persist with three at the back? Pleased with Saliba’s first game on the right and, if three is the decision, would keep the MK Don’s line up. I, however, would like him to go back to four, even against those dangerous Liverpool front three ( if they play), and would select, Saliba and Holding, with Tierney and Bellerin as full backs.

I recognise that Liverpool, with their attacking fullbacks, are probably the most dangerous team to play four at the back with, but it’s what I would try out. Dont want to scare Saliba to death but…….well just me perhaps.

I would then go ‘different’ to precisely counter those full backs with five nominally in front of that back line. Shock! Horror! Not quite as radical as it sounds!A M-N on right and Saka on left. Both pressing those full backs first when Liverpool have possession. Torreira and Xhaka (if I have to!) centrally, with Dani just in front. Aubang to lead the line centrally. Pepe/Nelson to be potential right side replacements if required. Eddie and /or Laca if extra support required up front.


I’m hoping we haven’t given up on Partey, and good news to be announced re Aubameyang and Gabriel in near future. In the meantime, do us proud Gunners and make it a competitive game with hopefully a win to celebrate.

LBG


Thiago Silva joining Chelsea…

August 28, 2020

As you all know, I am a fervent PSG supporter having grown up close to the training ground. I started following PSG in the era of Bernard Lama, Alain Roche, Ricardo, Valdo, Rai, Leonardo, Okocha, Ginola, Weah amongst other. We then had a short period of instability that lasted something like 14 years with lots of changes in owners and coaches but that included showy purchases including Anelka, Ronaldinho and Pauleta.

And then, the group QSI, backed by Qatar’s government, took over and we entered into a new dimension. A dimension that saw us purchase big players like Ibrahimovic, Beckham, Neymar but another player has really impacted the club during that last 8 years: Thiago Silva. A fabulous CB who had a great career at PSG, a captain for most of his time with us and one that was so close to finishing his time at PSG with a Champions League Cup. He has won many national trophies at PSG and unfortunately European success still eluded him and the club.

One thing is sure though – he has been the best Centre-back of PSG history and he has been an examplary captain. Often criticized for his lack of leadership in CL games, he has shown this year that he did improve on this aspect despite advancing in age. He has helped players like Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kouassi (that really ungrateful 18 years old that left for Bayern Munich for free although we offered him 3 years contract + 2 years) grow into fine CBs. He was much loved by his President, coaches and teammates.

As “O Mostro” (the monster) is set to join Chelsea today and despite the rivalry between the two clubs, I can only wish T. Silva to personally do well in the EPL. People think he is old and slow but the guy will be great in Cup Games, CL games and he will be a massive positive influence on Rudiger, Zouma, Tomori and Christensen (if the latter stays).

Obrigado Captain Silva and best of luck in the EPL!

So what are your thoughts on T. Silva joining Chelsea on a free transfer? Would you have wanted him to join us instead?


Do all roads lead to Rome to find the solution to our midfield conundrum?

August 26, 2020

It is not a secret that we are trying to strengthen our midfield – there are two profiles targeted:

  1. DM
  2. 1 more attacking CM

A lot of names have been heard such as Partey, Rice, Zacaria, Doucoure for the DM and for the CM, we are still looking at Ceballos but Coutinho and Grealish have also been mentioned…

But what if the solution was in Rome? and more specifically at AS Roma. Why AS Roma? Because we have a good bargaining chip with Mkhy who would like to stay there and Roma is keen to keep him and is open to exchanging players so which players could be looked at:

  • Amadou Diawaya is a player that has impressed this year with Roma playing as a Defensive Midfielder. The Guinean is 23 years old and has made the headlines because of his ability to cover a lot of grounds. A player that can be seen like a hybrid between Kante and Matuidi although he is not as good as them yet and is currently valued 20 Mln EUR.
  • Jordan Veretout is a player that has been monitored by AFC since last year. He is a versatile central midfielder who is known mostly for his defensive capabilities and his first pass. At 27 years old, he is valued at roughly 25 Mln EUR.
  • Lorenzo Pellegrini – the heir to De Rossi at Roma. A deep-laying playmaker that has a good reputation when it comes to his passing ability, his long range shot and is also regarded for his defensive contribution. Excellent delivery on set-pieces and at 24 years old, he is valued at 32 Mln.
  • Nicolo Zaniolo – a central attacking midfield and if Pellegrini is seen as a De Rossi, Zaniolo is more likened to the great Totti. Zaniolo is a more physical presence than Totti but he is less quick and his dribbling is not as mesmerizing. That said, he is seen as the crown of the Squadra Azzura for the years to come – he will probably (with age) play less as an attacking player and more as a central midfielder. He is touted to be a great and at 21, he is already valued at 55 Mln EUR.

Since Mkhy is valued at 20 Mln, it seems that we could get a good midfielder to strenghten our squad and address our DM or CM issue depending on whether we can manage to keep Ceballos.

So my fellow gooners, do all the roads lead to Rome when it comes to addressing our midfield conundrum?


Should he stay or should he go?

August 25, 2020

Only a few days before the season kicks off again with the Community Shield. I am not so hopeful about the outcome of this game against Liverpool but we are a cup team, so hope is permitted 🙂

More seriously and as the first EPL game is coming up soon too, we really need to have our “season” squad as soon as possible. There are a few players whose future is up in the air and some we won’t mind losing (Sokratis…) but I feel there are others where the jury is more divided so have your say on whether the following players should stay or go and give your rationale behind your decision

  1. Mustafi – quite a mixed career at AFC but a real resurgence under Arteta so should he say or should he go?
  2. Chambers – versatile and rather reliable when he played but he had his fair share of injuries and never nailed down a starter’s place under the various coaches. Should he stay or should he go?
  3. Holding – a promising defender who ended the season on a high but who had also shown some potential to be a very error prone defender. Seems to still run after his fine form before his knee injury. Should he stay or should he go?
  4. Kolasinac – the beast! The man who scared robbers! An overall solid athlete and defenders but never seemed to hit the top level we expected. Has shown that he can play as LCB, LB and WB so a versatile and useful player but should he stay or should he go?
  5. AMN – our very own academy product, a gifted player and a very good athlete. Excelled at the end of the season as a LWB. Should he stay or should he go?
  6. Lucas Torreira – one of the heroes of a memorable derby vs Tottenham and at first, a good performer but also seem to struggle at times with pace and physicality of the EPL. Should he stay or should he go?
  7. Matteo Guendouzi – a truly promising player who seems to struggle with his attitude though. Had great games and poor games. A controversial figure on the pitch and off the pitch. Should he stay or should he go?
  8. Ozil – we had the chat already so…no need to comment here 😛
  9. Reiss Nelson – seems to find his feet in the first team and had interesting games towards the end of the season. Do we stick with him in the squad or let him develop elsewhere?
  10. ESR – a promising player who never really got things going at AFC. Still unsure whether he is the next Cazorla or the next Kallstrom but seemed to have done quite well while on loan. Should he stay or should he go?
  11. Willock – highly touted by Ljungberg and given a chance under Emery and Arteta, he seemed to have hit a stumbling block and his season has been at best average. Should he stay or should he go?
  12. Lacazette – had a tough year but his career with us has been more than satisfactory. His work ethics, goals and assists have been useful but his time with us may still be up. Should he stay or should he go?

Pick any player(s) and blog away fellow Gooners!


Will the tough start break our positive spiral?

August 21, 2020

We ended the season on a high with a FA Cup Win. When the season re-started after the Covid-19 break, we had some good results against big teams like Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea but we also had tough losses against Tottenham and poor performances against Brighton and Aston Villa. Overall and with the FA Cup Win, there is a sense of positivity around the club and the feeling that we are finally moving in a good direction.

Yesterday, the FA released the fixtures and our start of the season is quite daunting with our first seven games being: Fulham (away), West Ham (home), Liverpool (away), Sheffield (Home), Man City (Away), Leicester (Home) and Man Utd (Away).

It means that our first two games are already must wins and that we must also beat Sheffield and Leicester at home – that would be 12 points out of 21 points possible. It would also hence be important to get something from the Reds, Oilers and the Red Devils…Otherwise, we would already be compromising our chances for Top 4.

Do you believe that this daunting start will act as good pressure for the team to keep on improving or do you believe these big away games are coming too soon in the season for us?

The floor is yours…


Is Serge Gnabry the one that got away?

August 20, 2020

After impressing as a young player for Arsenal and on loan at West Brom, Wenger wanted to extend his contract in the summer of 2016 but Gnabry wanted more first-team opportunities and opted to join Werder Bremen – the fee was 5 Million Pounds.

On his debut season at Bremen, Gnabry scored 11 goals in 27 matches, which attracted the attention of the German league ogre: Bayern Munich. for 8 Million Pounds in the summer of 2017. Once purchased by Munich, he was loaned out to Hoffenheim for the 2017-8 season where he scored 10 goals in 22 appearances in the league.

In 2018, Gnabry was finally presented as a Bayern Munich player and helped Bayern win the league with 10 goals (2nd goal scorer for Bayern) in 30 appearances.

In 2019, Gnabry really established himself as a clutch and key player for Bayern Munich. Impressing in the Bundesliga with 23 goals (45 appearances) across the league (12), champions league (9 and counting) and the Cup (2) as well as 10 assists.

So is Gnabry the one player that got away? Did we bet on the wrong horses (Oxlade? Walcott?Iwobi?Wellbeck) in the summer 2016?

In any case, I hope he does not do well on Sunday in the CL Final against PSG but there is, of course, some feeling of a lost opportunity with great consequences as Oxlade, Walcott, Iwobi, Wellbeck did not make the winger position their own at AFC and then we went on to buy Pepe for a hefty fee and I am sure that Pepe will be a very good player for us but if Gnabry was with us, then we may have saved a few millions…


Willian: A very good signing with an oddly long contract?

August 18, 2020

Our good friend LB brought up some key questions regarding our signing of Willian

First and foremost, are we happy to have signed Willian? His EPL experience, his statistics, injury record and the fact that he lives in London and was a free agent do seem to tick a lot of positive boxes.

However, his signing also seems to trigger some doubts. Was his signing necessary given the fact that Pepe seemed to have found his feet (at last) and that RN seemed to demonstrate good promise? Will Arteta play Willian on the right or in the middle (as part of a midfield trio with Xhaka and Ceba) or on the left? It is hard to tell but Willian is a versatile player that has, however, made his name as a right winger so let us see…

Lastly and although he seems to be physically reliable, was it a wise move to sign him on for 3 years given the fact that he is 32?

So, have your say about Willian:

  1. Are you happy with his arrival?
  2. In which position will Arteta play him?
  3. Was a 3-years contract a good move?

Thanks to LB for initiating the discussion


Ozil: “I will decide when I leave the club, not anyone else”.

August 13, 2020

Ozil has just said that he will decide when he leaves, not anyone else. He added that he has signed for 4 years, not two or three. He also recalled that when a player wants to leave and the club says no, the player has to respect the club’s position unless they find a mutually agreeable solution and likewise, if the club wants a player to leave but the player wants to stay, the club has to respect the player’s position unless a mutually agreeable solution is reached.

So it seems that this stage, the Ozil saga is going to keep us alert for at least this summer and maybe for another 12 months.

What is your take on it? Should we do like Utd and pay Ozil to leave? Shall we just try to reach an agreement with him so that he could be sold to the clubs he wants to play for but at a cut price (PSG, Juve, Barcelona, Benfica, Bayern, LA, Miami are reportedly interested)? Shall Arteta use him in Europe and Cup Games? Shall Arteta make him play as a false 9 in some games? So many options and yet, it could be another year of frustration for both the club, fans and Ozil…


Stronger wings to rise again to the top?

August 12, 2020

I think it is fair to say that Arteta wants more contributions and decisiveness from the wings and especially the wingers. He wants more goals, assists, dribbles and crosses. Who wouldn’t?

The wings are also a hot topic for us because we have been playing some forwards on the side like Auba and Martinelli. We also have some promising players coming through with Saka and RN has also displayed some good moments while Pepe seemed to have (finally) grasped the demands of the EPL and Arteta. So what do we do for next season? 

So who is likely to stay this summer?– Pepe on the right will stay for sure- Saka on the left will stay for sure- Martinelli is most likely to be used as a LFW still and he just extended his contract with us so he is staying for sure
Verdict: Pepe, Saka, Martinelli to stay


So who is likely to go out this summer? – Question marks remain around Reiss-Nelson. Will he get enough playing time? Arteta reportedly likes him and his work ethics. Nelson also impressed with his performance vs Liverpool so it seems that he is on the cards to stay but again and like ESR, if he does not play enough by December, he could potentially seek another loan spell after his successful stint at Hoffenheim. Besiktas has already enquired about his availability…
Verdict: . Arteta to keep RN and if he does not get enough playing time by December, he will be loaned out again…

Based on the above, these are our wing forwards (before any acquisition) for next year:
RFW: Pepe, Nelsson ; LFW: Saka, Martinelli

Given the above, I am rather certain we will invest in at least one more “experienced/proven” wing forwards this summer – I doubt the reports linking us to the 50 Mln prodigy from Portugal. 

Some names have been mentioned: – free players like Willian and Fraser- players that want to be more important in their teams like Shaqiri- players that want to join or stay in the EPL like Kostic or Sarr

If we are a bit short cashwise, then the move for Willian makes sense and if we can afford to, I would also go for Kostic. Both of them would be great additions because they have the engine to also play wing back…

So, possible wing options for next year:

RW: Pepe, Willian, RN ; LW: Saka, Kostic, Martinelli

Any thoughts?

PS: Feel free to disagree with any of the suggestions and to reassess the squad’s options on the wings.


Our defensive woes –

August 11, 2020

Arteta made it very clear in his post-match interview against Chelsea that his options at the back have been limited since he arrived with Mari being injured, Mustafi being injured, Chambers being injured…

He has also hinted that he will want to strengthen his defensive options (I am only focusing on defenders although we all know that we need to have a proper DM and a better defensive set-up overall) this summer.

So who is likely to stay this summer? Luiz, Mari and Cedric just signed new deals and Saliba is arriving so these players will be with us for sure next year- Tierney is a starter so no doubt about him staying- Chances to see Bellerin leave are also low. Verdict: Bellerin, Cedric, Luiz, Mari, Saliba, Tierney to stay

So who is likely to go out this summer? Mavropanos has been loaned out to Stuttgart already- Sokratis is likely to join Mavropanos there but as a transfer- Question marks around Chambers, Holding, AMN and Kolasinac…- What about Medley?- Arteta seems to like Mustafi so a move seems unlikely esp. since he is injured
Verdict: Mavropanos, Sokratis and Kolasinac to leave for sure and Medley to play in reserve still. Either Chambers or Holding will also leave and there is a question mark about AMN. Chambers’ contract ends in 2022 and Holding’s in 2023 so let us see which one goes. 

Based on the above, these are our defenders (before any acquisition) for next year and based on the assumption that Holding will be allowed to leave if we can cash in a good sum since his contract is longer…:
2 RB: Bellerin, Cedric ; CB: Chambers, Mustafi, Luiz, Mari, Sailba; 1 LB: Tierney

Given the above, I am rather certain we will invest in a CB and a LB. If we play with 3 at the back, then I d like us to go for Upamecano, Mukiele, Konate althouth Upamecano just signed a new deal with his current club and if we go with 4 at the back, then we should go for Koulibaly, Ruben Dias, I. Diop, Tarkowsky, Djene, Pau Torres, Diego Carlos or Fofana. As for LB, I think we should have a really good look at Estupinan as we cannot afford Man U bound Chilwell. There are also the Grimaldo, Gaya and Firpo options.

So, possible defensive line-ups 
with 3 at the back when all fit:

A team: Bellerin, Mukiele, Luiz, Mari, Tierney

B team: Cedric, Mustafi, Chambers, Saliba, Estupinan

with 4 at the back when all fit:

A team: Bellerin, Dias, Luiz, Tierney

B team: Cedric, Mustafi, Mari, Estupinan

Given that Luiz is with us another season, I d rather play 3 at the back although I like the systems with 4 at the back better but we cannot take a chance with him and Xhaka…

Any thoughts?

PS: Apologies if there is any mistake or issues with the post format, this is my first time posting…